[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

The BurmaNet News, November 6, 1997

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------          
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"          
The BurmaNet News: November 6, 1997             
Issue #862


November 5, 1997

     YANGON, Nov. 5 Kyodo - Myanmar's security authorities on Wednesday
arrested 50 members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) at the
party's branch office in Tamwe in eastern Yangon, the NLD said.
     Authorities also ordered NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi not to leave her
house and Vice Chairman Tin Oo not to visit her home Wednesday, the NLD said
in a statement.
     The statement criticized the ruling junta, the State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC), saying the arrests restrict legitimate
political activities by a legal political party. 
     On Tuesday police placed barricades on roads leading to the NLD office
in Tamwe to prevent Suu Kyi from attending a political gathering.
     The junta earlier appeared to have softened its stance by allowing Suu
Kyi on Oct. 21 to meet members of the NLD youth wing in Thaketa on the
outskirts of Yangon.
     On Oct. 28 authorities denied the NLD's request to hold a political
meeting at the party's branch office in a northern Yangon suburb and riot
police placed barbed-wire barricades on all roads leading to the office.
     The junta has refused to recognize the result of the 1990 general
election won by the NLD in a landslide.
[related excerpts]

November 6, 1997

Rangoon, AFP -- An official source denied that Ms Suu Kyi had been stopped
from leaving her residence on Rangoon's University Avenue, but had been told
riot police would be deployed to block the party meeting.

Top NLD figures, including party chairman Aung Shwe and deputy chairmen Kyi
Maung and Tin Oo, gathered at the Rangoon division NLD office close to Ms
Suu Kyi's home, and were due to head to Tamwe with the NLD leader.

When Ms Suu Kyi failed to show after one hour, the scheduled meeting with
around 50 NLD youth members and the organising committee for the Tamwe
township was cancelled, NLD sources said.

The official source said Ms Suu Kyi was not prevented from coming out, but
had been "repeatedly told" that any meeting outside her compound would not
be allowed.

Even if she had ventured out, barricades would have been put up around the
Tamwe office and the meeting prevented, he said.

Dozens of riot police and other security personnel were deployed around the
Tamwe office, as they had been on Tuesday, when the NLD postponed a meeting,
anticipating the authorities would block it.


November 6, 1997

           A meeting was held on November 1st between Thai and SLORC
military officials at Ber Kler village in Thailand. The Burmese agreed to
allow one NGO official to attend the meeting. Repatriating the newly arrived
refugees and how to supply them with food and medicine once they have
returned were discussed, however, no agreement was reached. The Burmese
delegate announced that if the refugees did not return, then they would
force them to come back.
          At present there are 1,061 people at Kwee Ler Taw village and
another 503 refugees at Htee Saw Shee village. The refugees at these two
villages are not allowed to enter Nu Poe camp.
          Many of these refugees come from the Kya In Seik Gyi area.
Following an attack on former KNLA No.16 Battalion commander Thu Mu Heh's
village in which two of his sons and one daughter were killed, Thu Mu Heh
requested reinforcements from the Burmese Army. The three battalions which
were sent in response have been terrorizing the villagers in the area.
Living conditions have become so difficult, that they have been forced to
flee to Thailand.
           Although no agreement was reached at the meeting. Thai officials
did allow medicine to be given to the new refugees at their sites in
Thailand on the 3rd, but food aid was not allowed and Thai soldiers
monitored the distribution of medicine.
          An official from the UNHCR came on 4/11/97 to speak about the
situation. Thai, KRC and NGO officials went to look at a place for the new
refugees to stay at Baw Neh Hta village in Thailand. The Thai military said
it will take responsibility, for the security of the new site. Food and
medicine are now allowed to be distributed to the new refugees.


September 1997


Burma, renamed Myanmar by the military State Law and Order Restoration
Council (SLORC) that has ruled it since 1988, is a resource-rich but poor
country with a population estimated by its government at 47 million. Most of
recorded GDP derives from agriculture. Although economic data are incomplete
and distorted, annual per capita GDP may be between US $200 and $300 on a
money basis, perhaps $600 to $900 on a purchasing power parity basis.
Burma's principal legal merchandise exports are wood, beans and pulses,
fish, garments, precious stones, and rice. Burma is also the world's leading
producer and supplier of opiates. Most heroin consumed in the United States
in believed to originate from Burma. Other U.S.-Burma trade is growing but
remains relatively small, worth less than $200 million in merchandise trade
in 1996, including $87 million worth of Burmese garment exports to the U.S.
and perhaps $10 million worth of Burmese travel services consumed by U.S.

Burma's economy stagnated under policies of state socialism and national
self-sufficiency during the 1962-88 military dictatorship of General Ne Win.
>From 1988 to 1993, the SLORC partially liberalized economic activity and
reduced obstacles to foreign trade and investment, inducing substantial
albeit unevenly distributed real growth. Since 1993, the pace of economic
reform has slowed, with the state continuing to monopolize some major
exports and to own 58 firms that dominate many sectors of the non-farm
economy. From 1993 to 1996, liberalization was reversed in the rural
economy, as the Government of Burma (GOB) applied increasing coercion in an
unsuccessful effort to boost state-monopolized rice exports by
multiple-cropping and expanding irrigation, but resumed again in 1997.

The GOB's chronically large fiscal deficits were the main obstacle to
continued economic liberalization, as well as the main cause of Burma's
chronically high money supply growth and price inflation. These deficits
were caused in part by low and declining tax revenues and overreliance on
nontax receipts. They were also caused in part by high defense spending,
apparently equivalent to at least half of central government spending and to
8% to 10% of recorded GDP, that has funded a doubling of armed forces personnel
despite the absence of any evident external military threat and the signing
of cease-fires with most internal insurgent groups. Since 1995, increased
spending on public works has also contributed to the deficit.

As liberalization slowed, so did growth. GOB data suggest that recorded
money GDP grew in real terms by 7.5% in fiscal year (FY) 94/95, 6.9% in FY
95/96, and 5,8% in FY 96/97. Although these figures may overstate real GDP
growth, the recent slowing of growth that they indicate is largely genuine
and likely to continue absent substantial further economic or political
liberalization. During the mid 1990s, an illusion of sustained rapid
economic growth was created by consumption growth much in excess of GDP
growth. This reflected a widening of the recorded trade deficit -- to 20% of
recorded GDP in FY 95/96 -- financed largely by increased workers'
remittances and by increased unrecorded net foreign exchange inflows
possibly caused largely by increased domestic retention of receipts from
exports of narcotics. These rental (easy money) foreign exchange inflows
caused the real exchange rate to appreciate during the mid- 1990s,
discouraging production of manufactured exports and import-substitutes.

Since 1995, merchandise exports have stagnated and public sector exports
have declined, resulting, since early 1996, in a foreign exchange shortage
concentrated in the public sector. In response, the GOB has printed kyat to
buy dollars, restricted private imports while spending private sector
foreign reserves for public sector imports, accelerated sales of real estate
and mineral exploration rights for foreign currency, and borrowed foreign
exchange on commercial terns from foreign investors and import suppliers
while not paying much of its large prior external debt service obligations.
During FY 96/97, the GOB's fiscal deficit grew relative to recorded GDP;
money supply growth and price inflation appear to have accelerated; and
foreign reserves fell to less than one month's import coverage. Severe
flooding in July and August that damaged the rice crop is likely to further
exacerbated inflation. In the long run, prospective natural gas export
receipts may improve Burma's balance of payments situation insofar as they
are invested in producing exports and import substitutes. In the short and
medium term they will not, partly because they are already largely
effectively obligated until well into the next decade. The GOB appears to
have no immediate prospect of regaining access to significant amount of
concessional external financing from sources other than the Government of
China, its foremost aid donor.

On the other hand, since 1989, the real incomes of most farmers have
increased, although those of some urban workers, notably including
government officials, have decreased. Since 1993, the GOB has launched
conservation measures to curtail unsustainable logging in areas it controls,
and has launched numerous public works projects to improve Burma's woefully
inadequate physical infrastructure. From 1993 to 1995, this increase in
infrastructure building was accomplished in part by a large increase in
uncompensated rural labor. However, since mid- 1996, the GOB appears to have
curtailed this practice somewhat, at least in central Burma, relying
increasingly on imported heavy construction machinery to build regional
irrigation works, and on army labor and paid contract labor to build railroads. 
During FY 96/97, the GOB adopted less coercive rice production and
procurement practices, reduced rice exports, and reduced the growth of its
defense expenditures. And during FY 96/97, for the first time since FY
92/93, the real exchange rate did not appreciate.

The persistence of an official exchange rate at which Burma's currency, the
kyat, is now worth about 30 times more than the market exchange rate,
facilitates official rent-seeking, but does not greatly misallocate
resources or retard growth, since few transactions occur at prices
reflecting the official exchange rate.  However, the GOB's practice of
equating kyat-denominated and
foreign-currency-denominated transactions at the official rate in its
national accounts distorts those accounts and reduces economic transparency. 
New attempts to deal with the foreign exchange problems involving imposition
of tight controls over the market rate of exchange and of import licenses
have created problems both for Burmese and foreign traders.

Burma remains the world's largest producer and exporter of opiates with a
potential annual production of about 2,500 tons. In recent years it appears
that an immensely large percentage of profits from the narcotics trade have
stayed ashore. The government has reached cease-fire agreements with ethnic
minority groups involved in narcotic trafficking and leading
narcotraffickers and has encouraged them systematically to invest in
infrastructure and other
domestic projects. Burmese import division growth in excess of production
and export growth in the mid-1990's appears to have been fueled largely by
increases in workers' remittances and domestically returned narcotic
receipts. Though we lack adequate information to quantify these amounts,
narcotic proceeds are still known to be invested also in Thailand and other
countries in the region.

The deterioration of public education since the onset of military rule in
the 1960s will affect growth and development prospects for years to come.
This appears to have accelerated since 1988, as the SLORC has reduced real
spending on education and health. Between two-thirds and three-quarters of
Burmese school children drop out before fifth grade, and primary school
enrollment has declined in recent years, apparently largely in response to
rising formal and informal school fees. Schools at all levels were closed
for much of 1997 out of apparent GOB concern that students might publicly
protest to challenge GOB policies, as they did in October and December 1996.

Public concern in the U.S. and other countries about the GOB's human rights
abuses, its suppression of Burma's pro-democracy movement since 1988, and
its failure to suppress narcotics trafficking, poses diverse political risks
for firms doing business in or with Burma, and has induced many foreign
firms to discontinue or restrict their activities. The consequent decline in
foreign investment has exacerbated the balance of payments crisis. Since
1988, the GOB has lost access to most foreign aid, including financial
assistance from the international financial institutions, which the U. S.
Government is required by law to oppose. The governments of the U.S. and of
E.U. member states grant no GSP tariff preference to imports of Burmese
origin, provide no preferential financing in support of exports to Burma or
investments in Burma, grant no licenses to export military equipment to
Burma, and refuse to issue visas to senior members of the military
government or to military personnel. Since 1994, ten U.S. cities, one county
and one state have enacted laws barring their governments from buying goods
or services from firms that invest in or buy from Burma. Since May 1997, the
U.S. Government has prohibited new investment in Burma by U.S. firms and
nationals, and is the only government to have applied such legal constraints
on its business relations with Burma. 
Consumer opposition in the U.S. and some other countries to the military
government's refusal to honor its pledge since 1988 to transition to a
multiparty democracy has also discouraged U.S. and other countries' private
sector to do business with Burma.


November 5, 1997

           Authorities Prevent NLD from Holding Unauthorized Rallies
                      to Maintain Stability and Tranquility in the Nation

                The government of Myanmar is trying to move the country
towards democracy within a solidified union and a supportive economic
infrastructure. In doing so the government is interested in meeting its
commitments while it expects others to meet theirs. For the long term
benefit of Myanmar it is important that the National League for Democracy
Party plays a constructive role and cooperates with the authorities and (9)
others legally existing political
parties in the country to create conditions necessary to support a fully
functioning democracy in Myanmar.

                Regretfully, Daw Suu Kyi's rigid and uncompromising stance
towards the authorities has created unnecessary setbacks for Myanmar in its
towards democracy. The confrontational line she has been pursuing in the
political arena has quite often forced the authorities to take necessary
measures intending to maintain stability in the country by the lawful
enforcement. Unfortunately, her actions and motives are not only unsupportive
in the building of democratic institutions but serious setback for Myanmar in
becoming a functioning democracy within a reasonable amount of time.

                Daw Suu Kyi's attempts to hold unauthorized political
activities in various townships in spite of the incessant requests by the
relevant township
authorities not to do so are seen as a confrontational stance taken to create
conditions to make the government seemingly repressive and rigid.

                Although, through the international media, she has created
an image where her activities and movements have been severely restricted by
the government. In reality it is not to be such so. (Please refer to
appendix (A) for
activities Daw Suu Kyi has taken for the month of October.)

                The relevant authorities have from time to time extended
every effort to be sure that these political activities are held
conveniently as long as they
are conducted within the framework of the law and within the establish
regulations governing such meetings.

                It is very much regretful and surprising to witness that Daw
Suu Kyi, who has been criticizing the Myanmar Government for not being a
democracy has failed to realize that even in a full-fledged democratic
society political
activities have to be conducted with the framework of the law. Activities
intended to create civil unrest, disobedience are not tolerated by any
government in the world regardless of political system they practice.

                In order to prevent any unnecessary incidents from taking
place the NLD Tamwe Township representatives have been informed by the
relevant authorities to refrain from holding unauthorized outdoor political
rally in the township on the 5th of November. It is also learnt that Daw Suu
Kyi's effort to attend the Tamwe Township NLD rally has been prevented from

                Daw Suu Kyi's Activities in October 1997

                A chronology of Daw Suu Kyi's activities which took place at
her residence and outside her residential compound-

(1) Oct. 1st    -Visited Panitayarma Shwe Taung Gone Monastery with son Kim
                        -       Visited mother Daw Khin Kyi's grave with son
                        -       Went to Mingladon International Airport to
see off Kim.
(2) Oct. 2nd    -       Round table discussion inside residential compound
attended by 52 NLD youths.
                        -       Dr. Thet Min visited Daw Suu Kyi at her
(3) Oct. 6th    -       NLD C.E.C members met at Daw Suu Kyi's residence for
a meeting.
                       -       NLD female members met with Daw Suu Kyi at
her   residence.
(4) Oct. 8th    -       NLD Pa-An Township representative met with Daw Suu
Kyi at her residence.
(5) Oct. 17th   -       Held a religious ceremony of paying homage to some
elderly politicians altogether (300) person participated.
(6) Oct. 18th   -       Attended birthday party of an acquaintance.
(7) Oct. 19th   -       Visited (5) residences including former President of
Myanmar Mahn Win Maung.
                        -       Held a religious ceremony inviting 5 monks
at university avenue residence.
(8) Oct. 20th   -       Held meeting with (9) C.E.C members at residence.
                        -       Danuphyu Township NLD representative and
wife visited university avenue residence.
                        -       Meikhtila Township NLD representatives
visited university avenue residence.
                        -       NLD youths visited university avenue residence.
(9) Oct. 21st   -       Visited NLD Thaketa Township office.
(10) Oct. 22th  -       C.E.C member U Lwin and family visited residence to
celebrate U Lwin's birthday.
(11) Oct. 23rd  -       NLD youths visited residence for a discussion.
                        -       Visited shops at Mayangone and Sule Pagoda Road.
(12) Oct. 25th  -       Visited U Tin Oo's residence.
(13) Oct. 26th  -       Visited (4) residences of acquaintances.
(14) Oct. 27th  -       Invited (5) monks to university avenue residence.
(15) Oct. 28th  -       Visited NLD Mayangone Township office.

Chronology of Exchange of Visits Between Daw Su Kyi and Some Members
                                     of the Yangon Diplomatic Corps.

(1) Oct. 10th   -       Visited French Ambassador at his residence.
                        -       Visited British Ambassador at his residence.
                        -       US CDA visited her at university avenue
(2) Oct. 11th   -       British Ambassador's spouse visited her at residence.
(3) Oct. 15th   -       (3) former US Ambassadors and US CDA visited her at
                       -       Counsellor of German Embassy visited her at
(4) Oct. 17th   -       Visited Philippine Ambassador at her residence.
                        -       Philippine Ambassador visited her residence.
(5) Oct. 21st   -       Australian Ambassador visited her residence.
(6) Oct. 24th   -       Chairman of one French company visited her residence.
                       -       Visited French Ambassador at residence.
(7) Oct. 27th   -       A British and a Swede visited her residence.
(8) Oct. 29th   -       CDA of Italian Embassy visited her residence.
(9) Oct. 30th   -       Visited Japanese Ambassador's residence.
(10)Oct. 31st   -       Visited French Ambassador's residence.


November 6, 1997

Mu Traw District

1.) On 1/9/97, SLORC troops came to Aw Law Kee village and arrested two
brothers, Maw Oo Lay (76) and Maw Yah (70), and took them to Papun town. The
relatives of the two men were told to pay 30,000 Kyat for each man for their

2.) A district convention was held on 7/10/97 in Papun by 70 pastors and
Church officials from Mu traw district. When the convention finished on
8/10/97, Staff Officer Soe Win had them put in prison for a night. The SLORC
officials allowed some of the Church leaders to leave the prison, to go and
call all the villagers from their areas to move to Papun. For each Church
official, two people from section (4) of Papun had to provide a guarantee
that the officials would return.
          On 16/10/97, Soe Win told the Church leaders that all of the
families who live in the mountain area must move to Papun. If they did not
come, then if SLORC troops saw them in the mountains, they would kill them.
The power to do this has been given to Soe Win by his commanding officers.
All of the Church leaders were allowed to leave on 17/10/97 after being
threatened by Soe Win. 

3.) On 16/10/97, LIB 36 came into Kwee T'Ma village and looted 
possessions and money from the houses of three villagers.
        (1) Saw Shwe Paw   possessions  worth 10,000 Kyat
        (2) Poh Duh Thaw   possessions  worth  50,000 Kyat
        (3) Maw Win           possessions  worth  20,000 Kyat and 
Money 15,000 Kyat. And then,, the SLORC soldiers stabbed Maw Win with 
a bayonet and cut his ear.

4.) On 30/10/97 LIR(704) came in Boh Plaw village area and arrested Saw Say
Ler (30). It is not known what has happened to him.

5.) On 1/11/97 LIR 703 came and shot villagers reaping the rice in their
fields at T'uh Na Kee, Hser Htee area. One villager was killed. Naw Paw Thee
and Saw Kaw Htee Wah were injured. The SLORC soldiers looted all the
possessions from the hut.
           On the same day, LIR 703 entered Kaw Day village and burnt down
the rice barn. The soldiers also took all the property they found from the
two small huts hidden near the village.


November 5, 1997



On October 22, 1997, SLORC soldiers' names are Zaw Lin, Htay Maung and Kub
Kwa from LIB- 240 raped three women who lived in Nwa Laboe, No (1) District,
Karenni. The three women's are Beh Meh, 50 years old and her father name is
Ree Reh, Boe Meh 29 years old, father's name is Lee Reh and Toe Meh 35 years
old, father's name is Seh Reh.

They were raped when they returned to the village from their hill-side


November 6, 1997.
By Bit Irom

Moreh, Nov. 5: Tenthonoi has crossed the Indian border at gate 3 near the
Indo-Burma border town of Moreh every day since the closer of border trade
between the two countries.  Many other traders have sneaked into India to
sell smuggled goods at Moreh in connivance with law enforcing agencies of
the government of India.

With the help of an interpreter, Tenthonoi, a poor trader from Tamu, a small
town about 4 km from Moreh, told The Asian Age that despite warnings issued
by Burmese officials, including the Army, the police and immigration
officers, not to cross the Indian border, over 100 Burmese businessmen from
Tamu and adjoining areas sell items at Moreh every day.  They come early in
the morning and return late at night.

Burmese cross the border near Magnag, Channiphai, Gagangjai, Gogoyang at
gate three and four. At gate 3 and 4, they cross over despite the presence
of BSF personnel. Tenthonoi adds that some Kukis at the border had robbed
them of their belongings a few times.  Since the closure of border trade,
hundreds of Burmese traders have been facing hardship, he said.  Border
trade was closed from October 12 till 21 following a fire at the market
complex of the Namphalong Bazar in Burma.  Trade resumed on October 22.

But it was closed again as the Burmese allowed only Meites and Meiti Pangals
to do business at the Namphalong Market.  Other communities, including
Tamils and other Indians, were not allowed to enter Namphalong Market.
Burmese traders had set up the trading centre at Namphalong. Although the
Burmese State Law and Order Restoration Council had closed the gate and
banned trade, Burmese traders continued their brisk business at Moreh.

Mathoi, 34, a businesswoman, told The Asian Age that the Burmese military
law enforcing officials had arrested over 300 traders, including 160 women,
for crossing the border since trade was banned. The women were kept in the
Achuk jail near Primary School, Tamu, while the non-traders were served
deterrent punishment. They were also forced to clean the Tamu town, she
said, adding that they had been given a month-long jail term.


November 6, 1997

Thai and Burmese army officers opened talks Yesterday and agreed to set up a
joint operations centre to fight narcotics production and trafficking along
the common border.

Thanom Watcharaphut, the Third Army Region commander, said the centre would
be set up as soon as the two sides had worked out operational details.

There are a number of drug factories along the opposite Chiang Rai, Chiang
Mai and Mae Hong Son provinces capable of producing heroin and amphetamines.

Many are run by members of the United Wa Army which is fighting for autonomy
from Burma, and remnants of the Mong Tai Army of drug warlord Khun Sa who
capitulated to Rangoon last year.

Lt-Gen Thanom said drugs were a threat to the national security of both
countries and he had asked Burma to cooperate with Thailand in eliminating
the menace.


November 5, 1997

Burma related events at Columbia University, NYC
Thursday November 6th, 1997
12pm  Brown bag lunch / Talk on the Economic Conditions in Burma
7pm  "BURMA DIARY" (documentary) - For four years, filmmaker
      Jeane Hallacy followed a Burmese student living in the
      jungle at the Thai-Burma border. Through her personal
      diary of friendship with him and his family, his story
      is told, from his role in the 1988 uprising to his
      struggle to survive in the jungle, and his political
      vision for the future. (filmmaker will be present)
Location:   School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia U.
            420 West 118th street (side entrance)
Directions: take 1 or 9 train to 116th street, go across
            campus to Amsterdam Ave., take immediate left,
            go under bridge, on the right after bridge you
            should see a sign that says "International Affairs"
            Inside the building near elevators, look for
            signs on the wall.


November 4, 1997

Dear Colleagues,

Please contact me directly at <altsean@xxxxxxxxxx> if you will be attending
the Apec parallel events in Vancouver from Nov. 17 - 24. It would be great
if we could coordinate to ensure Burma was satisfactorily exposed.

In solidarity

Debbie Stothard
A L T S E A N - B U R M A
*tel: [662] 275 1811/693 4515 *fax: [662] 693 4515 *e-mail: altsean@xxxxxxxxxx


November 5, 1997

There is an Anthropology professor who wishes to have some of his tapes
that he has from his visit to border areas of Karen villages that he would
like translated and transcribed.

if anyone is interested here is his info:

Robert C. Harman, Ph.D.  Anthropologist
(562) 985-5189 or (562) 985-5171
email: rharman@xxxxxxxxx

He was a great supporter of our free Burma week here at long beach as well.
 someone help him please.  thankx!